Welcome to Wakefield, VA!
Wakefield is one tiny town in a string of many along Route 460 East; it’s a mile-long stretch of road interrupted by a single stoplight, stretching outwards away from the town limits. Besides being the self-proclaimed Peanut Capital of the World, Wakefield is home to the weather station, the Virginia Diner, and Survivor’s Maralyn ‘Mad Dog’ Hershey. Life here is simple, slow and unchanged.
And I needed that familiarity – feeling unsure of everything is exhausting. These last three months have been really therapeutic. Stepping out of the role of Ausländer and back into my comfort zone, someplace I know inside-out and where there is absolutely no language barrier, was the perfect cure for burning out. Going back with another plan and a smile on my face is more than I could’ve asked for in February.
Now, with one week until my flight back to Germany, I’m trying to battle the inevitable mixed emotions of being ready to go but sad to leave. But since I don’t know when I’ll be able to come back next, I’m trying so hard to be very present, to enjoy all the little things, and spend time with everyone that’s important. I love spring in small-town Virginia, but being that Virginia has had a beautiful and unseasonably hot spring this year it has made it that much easier to make the most of each day.
Allergies. Because no matter how much I claim not to have them, waking up with watery eyes and a stuffy nose begs to differ.
Berry patches. If you ask my mom, we were both born to gather things. It will never NOT be fun. Strawberries in the spring, blueberries in the summer, pecans in the fall.
Critters. Mosquitoes, black snakes, may flies, oh my! I really love spring in Wakefield, but oh man do I hate May. It’s the month that all of the worst critters reappear and suck all the enjoyment out of being outside. It’s the month of battling mayflies during walks- arms glued to your ears, hands waving wildly. Or simultaneously scanning the ditch and the trees and the road and behind you for that pair of black snakes that’s definitely going to chase you. It’s just all too stressful for me.
Day trips. Wakefield is small and, if I’m being honest, there isn’t too much to do. So once the weather starts warming up we spend days off and weekends exploring nearby places: Smithfield, Richmond, Hampton Roads.
Earthworms. It’s not that Wakefield has an abnormal number of earthworms crawling around – that would be a scene from my nightmares. It’s just that I’ve recently rediscovered my fear of them while working in the yard.
Farming. If you live in Wakefield you are a) a farmer b) have a farmer in the family or c) are friends with a farmer. Farming is serious business here and spring is the beginning of the planting season.
Green & growth. It’s so much easier to really see spring when you live outside of a city (even though spring was alive and well in DC). Once the snow melted away in March, spring exploded on Wakefield. All the green, the gardens, the flower stands; I’m loving it, more than I normally do. I think it probably has something to do with the long, cold German winter that followed me home.
Humidity. 93% humidity, enough said.
Iced tea. Is there anything more southern than iced tea? Probably not. I could make tea abroad but it just wouldn’t be the same, it never has in my experience. Maybe it’s me. Or maybe that means iced tea from the south is magic.
Junking stuff. I go through weird phases of wanting to downsize and get rid of all my stuff. This has definitely been one of those phases. I’m down to a much more manageable size, especially for someone trying to cram her life in a suitcase.
Kitties. I’ve missed my kitties. I’m going to continue missing my kitties. I could cry if I think about it much more. The uncertainty of living abroad makes having a cat difficult, so while here I’m squeezing in extra time with the babies.
Lunch at the Virginia Diner. If you’re talking to someone and they have actually heard of Wakefield it’s usually because they’ve been to the VA Diner. Known for its ham biscuits and peanut pie, the VA Diner has been on Highway 460 since 1929. They’ve also got a killer lunch buffet on the weekends if you don’t mind crowds.
Milkshakes from the Tasty Treat. Hot, spring days aren’t complete without one of their chocolate milkshakes!
Nothing flashy. These last few months have been exactly what I needed: low-key, slow, and relaxing. Days spent outside, lots of sunshine, family cookouts, catching up, and some work on the side.
Outside living. Running outside, eating outside, sitting outside, reading outside, napping outside. Outside everything!
Peanuts. Peanuts are king in this tiny farm town – I kid you not, there are three peanut stores within the 1.3 square miles of town. Excessive? Maybe, but Germany doesn’t really do peanuts like Virginia so I’m definitely stocking up for my return. Want an insider tip? Stop at Plantation Peanuts of Wakefield for the best local peanuts. Try the jalapeño.
Quiet. Once you’re outside of town limits, away from the traffic on 460, it really is so peaceful. Like birds chirping and leaves rustling peaceful. I’m going to need to find this somewhere in Marburg.
Routine. During my time in Germany, I wanted so badly to find some kind of set routine, but never could. Now that I’ve come home and pulled myself out of that directionless-college-grad funk, I’ve found a groove. Part-time work, evenings spent reading, an exercise routine.
Sunbathing. Germany does have some sun some of the time and it can be really beautiful, but Germany-hot has nothing on Virginia-hot. So you better believe I’m lying outside every single morning trying to stockpile this Vitamin D for my return to Germany.
Traffic. By the end of May, summer beach traffic has hit Wakefield and it won’t ease up until September. You can tell how bad a day’s traffic will be by how full the Virginia Diner’s parking lot is.
Unbeatable sunsets on the farm.
Veggies. Is there anything better than a tomato out of the garden? Not really. I could seriously live off of summer BLTs. My Grandpa planted a massive garden full of every vegetable imaginable, including my beloved summer squash, but I won’t be around to enjoy it. It’s a little devastating.
Walks around the farm. These mother-daughter walks might be what I miss most after I leave.
eXtreme weather. The weather here is notoriously temperamental. One day could be 85 and humid and the next 40 and rainy. It is completely random and unpredictable. But it’s finally started to have a little consistency; it’s hot or really really hot. Yesterday’s thunderstorm is a fun change.
“Yonder”. Supper, reckon, y’all, huggin’ necks. I’ve really missed all the little ‘southernisms’.
Zipping by. I can’t believe that in a week I’ll be back in Germany. There just aren’t enough days..Goodbye Wakefield!